Most of the day Saturday was spent catching up on a few things around the house, and wondering how sore my legs were going to get. Perhaps more importantly, how sore were they going to be at 11:00am on Sunday? Fortunately, not that bad.
Sunday marked my first trip to Topeka in FOREVER. It's seriously been like 20 years or something like that, so I had no idea how long it would really take, as immediately after the race I had to book it home and get to AB's first basketball practice. I'd hate to miss that.
As I pull up to the course, I don't see much elevation change, which obviously I like. I couldn't see that much though because a) the morning coffee was trying to punch its way out of my bladder and b) the course was LONG and strung out. Very spectator unfriendly, I think, but so was the 21 degrees of cold we had to contend with. I chose to wear the same thing I did on Saturday, thinking that even though it was colder, it was less windy so shoulda been a wash. I was pretty close to right, although I chose to wear my snowboard gloves instead of my awesome-to-35-degrees Giordana gloves. That was a great choice, because once your fingers get cold, it's all over. For your fingers at least.
I headed over to the Natatorium and get checked in, pee, and get some terrific coffee. It was so great, I drank it black which is pretty unusual for me. I immediately head back over to the car, get out the snowboard gloves, helmet, and shoes and head out for a leisurely pre-ride, making mental notes of the trouble spots.
I found two. Once was a little S-turn on some off-camber grassy area, that looked pretty easy to overcook it coming in and wash out and get tangled in the orange safety fence. The other was coming off the Mound of Mercy (not that bad, really), and then you had to take a hard right before the pits. Not technically difficult, but more than a few people blew that turn.
The course was pretty flat, and was suited to a power rider, which seemed to be me somehow. We had a small field of 19 (smallest field I've ever raced), and I laid it down as hard as I could. I guess that's the point. One thing I've learned about myself over these last 10 races is that I never go hard enough. At least I feel like I don't. The course had you go a long way to the north, around some buildings, and a few sketchy corners with acorns. There was also a couple of sections of zoysia that sucked. It felt like riding with your brakes on. I decided to hit that as fast as possible just to get it over with.
We had a 30 minute race, as opposed to the 40 minute race the day before, so I just buried the needle deep and held on. I came off the start in about 12th or 13th, and passed a few riders before tailing an Emporia guy and finally passing him to move into 8th. Pretty nice indeed. I held on until halfway through the last lap, when I must have slowed down due to my back tightening up. Last I saw I had at least 10 seconds on him, and then all the sudden he was on my ass. I just kept the hammer down, until the last turn off of the grass and onto the pavement for the 500' finishing stretch. I tried feebly to sprint, but the legs looked more like question marks than exclamation points by then, so I relinquished my spot. Notes for next time/off-season training!
9th of out 19 isn't something to write home about (I guess that's what I'm doing anyway), but it was another strong effort, a good race plan, and a successful day. I was pretty happy all in all, so now I have 4 weeks to train until Cross off the Old Year (12/31), followed by Epic CX (1/2) and Grote Prjis (1/9), and then a big bear slumber (until Feb 2011).